Archive for May, 2010

While nobody in Nintendo’s ranks is freaking out just yet, the company did post an annual profit decline for the first time in six years, the Wall Street Journal reports. What’s more, Nintendo said it expects the backwards trend to continue again this fiscal year while the company focuses on new products to spur growth.

Sales of Nintendo’s Wii and DS handheld consoles have finally started to slow down. For the fiscal year ended March 31, Nintendo said it sold 20.53 million Wii consoles world-wide, down 21 percent from the previous year. And for this fiscal year, Nintendo expects sales to drop yet again, this time to 18 million units.

"There’s a lot of expectation that Nintendo will continue to dominate. And that’s a tall order in this industry, which is characterized by changes in leadership in every generation," said Jay Defibaugh, equities research director at MF Global FXA Securities.

Going forward, Nintendo will face increased competition from Microsoft and Sony, both of which are planning to introduce motion-sensing controllers for their own respective consoles. Combined with the Wii’s inability to play back high-definition content, Nintendo has reason to be concerned.

On the handheld front, Nintendo will release the 3DS next year, which won’t require any goofy looking glasses. If it works as well as Nintendo anticipates, the company will be better prepared to fend off increasing competition from mobile phones, which have started to make a harder push into the casual gaming segment.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) has tapped into AMD’s stable of chips to power the company’s upcoming ProBook laptop line. According to HP, architectural improvements in processor design have resulted in up to 69 percent better performance and up to 72 percent more battery life than previous AMD-based notebooks.

Among the new models are three ProBook S-series and two ProBook B-series, which will come configurable with AMD’s Phenom II, Turion II, and Athlon II chips, including dual-, triple-, and quad-core parts, HP said. Other AMD ProBooks will include the 4325s, 4425s, and 4525s with screens ranging from 13.3 inches to 15.6 inches. Pricing will start out at $619 with availability slated for May.

There will also be a handful of ProBook laptops sporting Intel hardware inside, such as the 6445b and 6555b. These will ship in June starting at $779 and come with the same screen sizes as the above AMD laptops.

According to AMD’s Dirk Meyer, the chip maker is "under represented" in the laptop space, which the company hopes to change with these new processors.

Image Credit: Hewlett Packard

According to an Associated Press (AP) report, Skype is finally planning a public beta test of a group video chat function in which up to five users will be able to see each other’s mugs simultaneously during a call.

When it launches next week, beta users will be able to try it out for free, but eventually Skype will charge for the five-way videoconferencing feature, said Neil Stevens, general manger of Skype’s consumer business segment. Other features will also be included, though Stevens didn’t elaborate on what those might be.

Stevens said Windows PC users will get first crack at the video group chat feature, while the company expects to release a version for Macs sometime later this year.

Private equity firm Apax Partners will spend $580 million on a 70 percent stake in Sophos, the security vendor announced on Tuesday. The hefty investment values the UK–based security company at $830 million.

Sophos focuses almost entirely on providing antivirus protection to businesses of all sizes, and according to Graham Cluley, the security vendor’s senior technology consultant, not much will change as a result of the buyout.

"There won’t be any job losses or any changes inside," Cluley said. "There will be the same management team."

Sophos had toyed with the idea of making an initial public offering (IPO) in 2007, but decided against doing so when the economy all but tanked. According to Cluley, Apax approached the company earlier this year with a more attractive offer than that of an IPO.

IBM on Monday announced it has acquired Cast Iron Systems, a privately held company based in Mountain View, CA that specializes in cloud integration software, appliances, and services.

"The integration challenges Cast Iron Systems is tackling are crucial to clients who are looking to adopt alternative delivery models to manage their businesses," said Craig Hayman, general manager, IBM WebSphere. "The combination of IBM and Cast Iron Systems will make it easy for clients to integrate business applications, no matter where those applications reside. This will give clients greater agility and as a result, better business outcomes," he said.

With the addition of Cast Iron Systems to its portfolio, IBM says it will be able to offer clients a complete platform to integrate cloud applications from providers including, Amazon, NetSuite, and ADP with on-premise applications, such as SAP and JD Edwards.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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